- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Brookings Institution Press (June 1, 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0815714092
- ISBN-13: 978-0815714095
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Politics, Markets, and America's Schools
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"[Listed by Philanthropy as one of the Eight Books that Changed America]: [Chubb and Moe] have done nothing less than produce what is probably the most influential book on K-12 education of the last generation.... Some advocates have been frustrated that school choice hasn't made more political progress, but one things for sure: Without the pioneering work of Chubb and Moe, it wouldn't be where it is today. "—John J. Miller, National Review, Philanthropy, 7/1/2002
"Surely the most eagerly awaited education book of the year, and very likely destined to become the most influential."—Chester E. Finn, Jr., Vanderbilt University
"Theoretically innovative, empirically well-grounded, methodologically sophistcated, and bristling with provocative policy implications, this study is both path-breaking and definitive. What's more, it explains for the first time exactly how politics makes a difference in American education."—Paul E. Peterson, Harvard University
From the Back Cover
During the 1980s, widespread dissatisfaction with America's schools gave rise to a powerful movement for educational change, and he nations's political institutions responded with aggressive reforms. Chubb and Moe argue that these reforms are destined to fail because they do not get to the root of the problem
Top customer reviews
One of the most important recent work advocating choice is Chubb and Moe's Politics, Markets, and America's Schools. They present a three part argument: (1) private schools have lower levels of bureaucratic influence; (2) less bureaucratic influence makes school organization more functional; (3) better organized schools produce greater achievement gains among their students. Three separate multiple regression statistical analyses provide modest support for their contentions.
While I do not see any evidence that there is one single "silver bullet" that can magically transform American schools, this book is important to look at as part of a wider dialogue. I think that choice by itself won't make a huge difference; however, it might be one part of a larger picture. And this book is an important component of that debate. . . .
First and foremost any one star reviewer labeling this as right-wing propaganda did not read it or is willing to lie about what they read.
The Brooking Institute is hardly a conservative think-tank. Rather, it is notably a moderate think tank. At the time of publication both Terry Moe and John Chubb were distinguished professors at Stanford University. They are hardly right-wing ideologues. What they are is very knowledgeable and credible academics concerned about the dismal state of public education.
In fact Politics, Markets and America's schools is a scholarly, yet accessible treatment of the factors that contribute to successful schools.
Moe and Chubb do cross-sectional studies of dozens existing studies that examine educational performance and come to their conclusions based upon real data, not ideology.
This book is not an attack on the concept public education, but instead is a critique of what public education has become and how it is structured. Moe and Chubb point out exactly why public education is failing and will continue to fail unless some fairly radical actions are taken.
If you want a book that provides a unbiased view of the state of public education (everything they said in 1990 is even more true today) and then makes concrete suggestions on how to improve it, then Politics, Market's and America's Schools is an excellent read that provides a great foundation for this very important debate.
In the first chapter “The Root of the Problem,” the authors provides insight into the dismal, current state of the quality of education in the United States and the causes behind this status quo. The authors assert that U.S. is failing it students, as students underperform nationally and are outperformed globally. According to the authors, the current educational governance system, including teachers unions, politicians, school boards, superintendents, book publishers, testing services, administrators, professionals and “many other beneficiaries” (p.12) are the root cause for this status quo and needs to be transformed first, otherwise current initiatives to improve the quality of education will “fail” (p.18).
In Chapter 2, “An institution perspective of schools”, the authors provide a conceptual justification for why the current public school governance system isn't working, will continue to fail and propose an alternative governance system, such as the system employed by private schools, as a solution. Private schools, according to the authors, are free from the bureaucratic and political constraints of the current and traditional public school governance system. These constraints include a uniform institution of democratic control, centralized authority and decision-making, lack of choice and agency of parents and students, lack of autonomy, which has detrimental implications for personnel decisions, goals, leadership and practice.
Through Chapters 3 and Chapter 4, Chubb and Moe provide empirical evidence regarding the characteristics of high and low performing schools as well as ineffective and effective school organizational systems. The characteristics of higher performing schools include clearer and more ambitious goals, stronger educational leaders, professional and collaborative staff, rigorous academic coursework, and orderly classrooms. The organizational characteristics, along with student ability and family background , contribute the most to student growth and achievement, according to the authors.
Chapter 5, “Institutional Context and School Organization,” provides the major empirical thrust for the authors argument that educational systems, such as private schools and the liberties that characterize these systems, are better at educating and improving the achievement of students. Their findings suggest that private schools have relatively high autonomy. This autonomy strongly influences the quality of the school organizations and, consequently, student achievement. Chapter 6, “Better Schools through New Institutions: Giving Americans Choice,” summarizes these findings and proposes the fundamental changes required to improve the educational system and achieve similar results of the private sector, including: supply of public schools, funding of public eduction, choice of school, and governance and organization of the school. More specifically, the authors suggests that there should be minimal defining criteria of a public school, states should grant any group the ability to operate and receive funds for their schools if they meet this criteria as well as full autonomy over its governing structure and policies. This also includes choice for students and the liberty to choice the school they want to attend and a “voucher-like” funding systems in which schools receive varying amount of scholarships for the demographics of students that apply to and enroll within their schools.
As one the first individuals to assert these ideas, Chubb and Moe's conceptual framework, findings, and concluding proposal are innovative and fascinating. Nevertheless, they are also areas worthy of scrutiny. The conceptual framework, which presents the public sector as monolithic, fails to thoroughly consider and acknowledge that the diversity of the public school system between states, between districts and even within districts as well as position the current system into accurate historical context.
First, the authors paint a romanticized image of the public school system prior the 1900s in which “the lower classes and ethnic and religion minorities [had] control over their own schools” and in which “education was about simple, important things that everyone cared about and could understand.” However, in the 1800s, minorities, particularly Black Americans, were enslaved until the 1863 (year of the emancipation proclamation) and, as a result of local and state control, ethnic minorities and people from lower social status were legally banned to education themselves, much less attend a public school in order to do so. In fact, it was because ot the intervention and control from the federal government that these minoritized groups were able to have access to public school s and gain increasing access to quality education. Similarly, although under the umbrella term of “public school education”, schools and its leadership are quite distributed and cannot be only attributable to positional roles and titles.
The methodological approach and sample also poses some concerns. Although the authors assert that there sample is representative, they present little to no descriptive evidence about the representativeness of their sample. This is especially concerning since their sample only includes 1,015 schools and 60,000 students. The approach to examine only high performing and low performing schools may also be artificial and does not help readers understand the nuances of schooling, especially since most schools have average performance. The authors also do acknowledge the selection bias that may occur when comparing groups as binaries. Nevertheless, their resolution that utilizing high school achievement and growth will diminish this , is flawed because endogenity and omitted variable bias may still occur and is heavily prevalent.
Their emphasis on Choice, in their conclusion, also warrants questions. Now, after the publication of the book, it is well documented that all students and families do not have equal choice, given that students and their families have varying levels of agency and social/human capital that they can leverage to get into the schools they want. Similarly, schools in high stakes environments pick and choose the students they want in their school to keep their performance high -- even when students are supposed to have equal opportunity Thus, choice system can be just as corrupt as performance based pay because schools have an incentive to attract certain students, not necessarily attract all students and exacerbating educational inequities. From a finance perspective as well, I question how feasible is a statewide choice system.
I would ask the authors now how they reevaluate choice given the more recent work from scholars surrounding choice. Nevertheless, Chubb and Moe have proposed interesting findings that has transformed the ways in which we think about education. And I encourage anyone interested in learning about the foundations of the market-based approach as well as choice to read “Politics, Markets & America's Schools.”